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Much to learn from HK, NY

SHANGHAI should beware of extreme vertical density and unfriendly streets in its urban development, drawing on the experience of Hong Kong and New York.

A forum entitled "Vertical Density, the Public Dimension: A Dialogue between Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York" was held in Hong Kong yesterday to mark the 100-day countdown to the 2010 World Expo.

Hundreds of urban planning and design experts from the three cites discussed urbanization under the Expo theme of Better City, Better life.

"We should learn from the experience of the two cities and use the opportunity of the World Expo to develop Shanghai into a global metropolis," Zhou Hanmin, deputy director of the 2010 World Expo Shanghai Executive Committee, said at the forum.

Lots of green space

Despite its small area, Hong Kong has much green space thanks to its vertical density, said Henry Tang, chief secretary for administration of Hong Kong.

Built-up area takes up only one-fourth of Hong Kong's 1,100 square kilometers. About two-thirds of Hong Kong is woodland, shrubland, grassland and wetlands, according to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Echoing the green space, the third floor of the Hong Kong Pavilion will have an indoor wetland based on the Hong Kong Wetland Park.

However, dense high-rise can cause lots of problems, such as with ventilation and heat.

Hong Kong has moved from "vertical density" to "horizontal corridors," said Tang. The government has reviewed its Outlying Zoning Plan to incorporate building height and other development restrictions.

Hilary Ballon, Vice Chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi, advised Shanghai to find a balance between fast-flowing traffic and pedestrian-friendly streets.

"People used to think driving cars in New York city was the most important thing but that destroys the city," she said. "The streets in old Shanghai are very close to the ideal. Those were great streets to walk on."


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